Awkward Catholic

Living my faith as the awkward man of God that I am.


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Unbounded Grace

VulnerableDo you believe that God wants to heal you from your wounds, to set you free from your fears? Do you truly believe that God wants to set you free? It’s easy to claim that we believe it. Every Christian will quickly give a mental assent to this truth. But few actually embrace it with their hearts. I know this because I too fail to fully embrace it. Each night I somehow convince myself that watching the T.V. will be more satisfying than reading Scripture or spending time in quiet prayer.

Why is that? Why do we cling to our fears and sin when we know the Truth? Perhaps it’s because we’re comfortable in our brokenness, it’s familiar to us. We know what to expect. Or perhaps it’s because we don’t really trust God. I mean, he’s so distant and intangible to us! How can a God up in heaven set me free down here on earth? If he wants to set me free, he can do it, but I’m not letting go of my sin until he does. Or perhaps we’re too afraid that our particular sin or fear it is too big, too embarrassing, or too unforgivable.
So we keep our fears and sins buried (or we try to) in the deep recesses of our hearts, allowing them to spill over into our real lives by preventing us from embracing prayer, loving others, following Christ with all our heart, mind and strength and hindering our relationships with our friends and family. We bury our fears and sins deep within and verbally claim Christ’s grace without letting it penetrate our souls.

This is not what Christ wants for us. He did not die so that we might live in fear. He did not send his Spirit so that we might lock ourselves in the prison of our hearts. As it says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.”

Both God and Satan have a plan for us:
God desires us to know, love and serve him by bringing his life giving, soul freeing love to others.
Satan is hungry to devour with the lust of a child predator. We are to become his food, his slaves.

T-Rex
The devil tries to get us to focus on our faults and failings and despair. God gives us unbounded power and grace*. And his grace doesn’t just make up for what we lack, it completely transforms our failings into our strength!! He takes our weakness and makes us strong. He sees our faults as opportunities to demonstrate his awesome love and power. He uses our sins and creates opportunities to love. It is from our woundedness that we serve him best, where we recognize his love and grace and find our hope and our salvation!! As it says in 1 Cor. 1:25, “For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”

God has a plan for your life, a beautiful, glorious and challenging plan. He is calling you. He wants to set you free! Even when Jesus walked the earth, he didn’t call the perfect, the best speakers or leaders, but he called Simon, a loud mouthed know-it-all and Judas, a thief and betrayer. He could read hearts. He knew exactly where they excelled and exactly where they would be stretched. And yet, he still chose them! Not because it would grow his ministry, but because he wanted them to experience his real and true love!!

But not all those he called responded with openness. We can see what happens when we simply acknowledge God’s grace but don’t accept it into our hearts… Judas. Judas wasn’t forced to betray Christ, he chose to betray him. He acted out of fear and selfishness; he refused the grace of God. And we see what happens when we do truly accept it: St. Peter, St. Paul, the Good Thief and so many more.
We cannot, however, receive this grace of God if we don’t acknowledge and humbly accept our need for it. We must search out those places we need healing and wholeness and ask for God’s grace in those places. God desperately wants to heal you, but he will do nothing without your permission.

So what is your biggest fear, where do you need God’s grace the most? Acknowledge your brokenness and sin (the best way is to go to Confession on a regular basis, but it also helps to read Scripture, meditate on the Cross and pray the Rosary, among other devotions). God truly wants to set you free to become the person he made you to be. Cooperate with that grace and allow him to heal you and shine through your wounds, which he will heal. In heaven, I believe, the glory of God will shine most intensely through our scars.

Light Cross

* CCC 1996: Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.


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Satan vs. the Eucharist… Challenge Accepted

Evil Mask

* Update: While the Harvard Extension School Cultural Studies Club officially canceled the event at the last minute, about 40 students involved found another location, “The Hong Kong Restaurant” and unbeknownst to the owner, held the black mass in the upper room.*

 

Tonight, May 12th 2014 an atheist group at Harvard conducted a Black Mass under the guise of a cultural enrichment program. The blasphemous horror of the event has not been lost on many of the Catholic faithful around the country. For those who might not know, a Black Mass is a mockery of the Catholic Mass and is the grand event of satanism with the desecration of a stolen Eucharist the main event, much like the Catholic Mass is the source and summit of the Catholic faith. The sole purpose of a Black Mass is to make a mockery of a Catholic Mass and to desecrate the Body of Christ.

Let’s be honest here, anyone aware of the culture war going on around us, both physical and spiritual, isn’t surprised by this latest atrocity. As our culture tolerates everything but the Truth, it is no wonder that the last acceptable bias is against Catholics. And as we all know, Satan attacks most fiercely those things that are a threat to him. He goes after that which is holy, good and true. Remember, Satan can’t create anything new, all he can do is twist and mock that which is real(1). Lust is nothing but a twisted form of love; greed and envy are merely twisted forms of self-gift; gluttony is twisted self-denial; wrath is twisted justice; sloth is twisted mercy.

PietaIn response, tonight my wife and I prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary as I gazed upon a beautiful image of Michelangelo’s Pieta. Mary holds her Son’s lifeless body, her heart pierced by a sword of loving grief. Her right hand clasps her son’s body and her left lies open, inviting the world to adore. It’s as if she were saying, “Come, all you who pass by the way, look and see whether there is any suffering like my suffering.”(2) Mary our Mother invites us into her grief, to mourn with her and to love with her.

We make ourselves vulnerable, as he was vulnerable; as he is still vulnerable to all the evil the world can throw at him. With every blasphemous Black Mass, every abortion, every murder or grave sin, Christ’s body is bruised and broken. His hands and feet are nailed to the Cross, his side is pierced for our transgressions, and not just the grave sins, but the small ones too. Those sins we daily commit, the lustful stare, the demeaning word or rumor, the judgement in our hearts and the laziness in our bones. God made himself vulnerable to our love and our hate. He gave his body over to torment and death and he hasn’t revoked that promise.

In these recent days I’ve often wondered why he doesn’t stop such an atrocity from occurring. I have to keep reminding myself that the Pharisees mocked him on the cross with the very same challenge, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.”(3) I need to remember that God is in control, all things happen according to his will and “where sin abounds grace abounds all the more.”(4)

You see, I truly believe that God will bring about amazing graces through this blasphemy. It’s not that he wanted this to happen, but that he allows it to happen (because he promised us free will and must stand by his word) and despite the great evil that is perpetrated, he will bring about even greater good. Even before the Black Mass at Harvard began countless people around the world have been praying, Masses have been offered up, Holy Hours have been prayed and grace upon grace has been poured out all over the world! There’s simply no telling how much grace will be poured out and where it will end! That’s the awesome power of our God!

EucharistSo, how should we respond to such evils as the Black Mass being conducted at Harvard? We fight fire with Fire of course. The Archbishop of Boston is right to protest this evil with a counterpoint… the beauty of the Mass and Holy Adoration. It’s the same in our daily lives as we encounter sin, both the sin of others and our own… we counter evil with love, we respond to injustice with mercy, we pray, adore God and sacrifice. We call down God’s grace and power into this world and like the Allies on D-Day, we establish an indomitable beachhead of God’s Kingdom in a darkened world and watch satan fall from the sky like lightning.(5)

God has already won the victory, now let us fight the battle.

1. The more God-like or holy someone/something becomes, the more real it becomes.
2. Lamentations 1:12
3. Luke 23:37
4. Romans 5:20
5. Luke 10:18